JOBURG FOR INTROVERTS is a guide for those of us who hate crowds, and who just want to find a quiet spot and be left alone (if you’re looking for a ‘vaaibe’, you won’t find it here). This is a guide dedicated to My People, the introverts of Joburg. Next to feature is rooftop venue Ferguson’s Fifth Floor in Illovo… introverts, enjoy!
I’ll level with you, introverts… I had no idea how hard it would be to find places in this city that are good for the introvert soul. I’ve had recommendations, I’ve scouted out spots, but very few meet my exacting combination of ‘tranquil’, ‘inviting’ and ‘leave me alone’. I think it has something to do with the fact that the world, in general, is built for extroverts (for an interesting perspective on this, check out Susan Cain’s TED talk called The Power of Introverts).
Be that as it may, I finally happened upon an introvert haven called Ferguson’s Fifth Floor, a rooftop venue in Illovo. It seems like not many people have heard of this place, which is a big part of its charm – as the general manager, Sam Sporides, explains, “Our main thing is events; anything from corporate meetings to baby showers. The restaurant isn’t that well known, and it’s a double-edged sword – Ferguson’s on Fifth isn’t really marketed; we want people to come here, but we also don’t want it to turn into Tasha’s. It’s chilled, it’s not… frenetic.”
We both say ‘frenetic’ at the same time.
If there are two places that I loath in Johannesburg it has to be Montecasino, and any (and every) Tashas.
I ask Sam if she’s an introvert. “Oh no,” she responds. “No… no, no. I’m an extrovert for sure!” We laugh. I fiddle with my camera. I still feel SO awkward with a camera around my neck; it brings too much attention.
Ferguson’s Fifth Floor is located on the fifth floor of a very fancy building in Ferguson Road, Illovo, and it’s clear that very fancy people – the people who do know about this place – come here. But don’t let that put you off, unsophisticated introverts. Also, don’t let the hectic security in the basement parking freak you out. Your licence will be scanned, you’ll be given a green plastic card, and you’ll be directed to a lift. Upon exiting said lift on the fifth floor, you’ll give the green plastic card to a lady-security guard with rainbow-unicorn hair. When you want to leave the building, you’ll be given a red plastic card, which you hand to the security guard in the basement. Why such hectic security, I ask. “We have Blue Chip clients who come here for events,” I am told.
The venue and restaurant has been open for about two years, and its main drawcard is its outdoor rooftop deck space, which comes with a great view.
When I visited I sat outside; it was a little chilly so I basically had the rooftop to myself, which was amazing. Sam mentioned that in the warmer months it gets busier, as people from the surrounding Illovo offices come here for early sundowners, especially on a Friday afternoon. It can also get a bit busy in the mornings at breakfast and also at lunchtime, but for some reason the quietest day is a Tuesday (this perplexes Sam and she has no explanation for it – so come on a Tuesday, introverts).
There’s also an indoor area, as well as a harvest table every day and a la carte menu. I didn’t eat anything, but I had a decent cup of coffee.
I’ll definitely be back (probably on a Tuesday). You can find Ferguson’s 5th Floor just off Melville Road (near GIBS) on the 5th Floor of 35 Ferguson Road, Illovo, Sandton; there’s unusually VIP-level secure basement parking. Open 7:30am to 5pm weekdays only. Visit their website for more info or find them on Facebook here.